Within a few days of the announcement that longtime Orangefield Independent School District Superintendent Philip Welch was retiring, the school board made a move to secure his replacement. What the board didn’t do, however, was give any explanation or comment to the dozens of concerned citizens who showed up to hear Welch’s resignation statement Tuesday, March 6.
Even a week after accepting the superintendent’s resignation, little to no comment has been handed down from the school board.Welch’s departure came as a surprise to the OISD community, and the parents and students served by the district. In Welch’s announcement, which came March 2, he stated he would submit a letter of resignation for the OISD school board to accept during its March 6 meeting. The superintendent cited eligibility for retirement and timing as the reason for his departure in correspondence with OISD officials, but the lack of spoken word left many seeking answers from the school board.
At the school district’s meeting Tuesday, March 6, board members voted to accept Welch’s letter of resignation. Although “OISD, The Only Place to Be” is the motto that Welch signed his name under for more than five years as the leader of the Orangefield school district, according to his letter of resignation, Welch is ready to be someplace else.
“I have thought about this quite a bit, and truly believe it is the best thing for OISD at this time,” Welch wrote in an e-mail to OISD staffers before his departure. “I am eligible to retire, which sounds pretty good. Given the timing, and with so much of the spring spent planning for the upcoming school year, I will no longer be involved in the day to day operations of the district.
“As I look back on the 20-plus years with OISD, I am most appreciative of everyone’s support and what has been accomplished. (Through) five years as superintendent, we have experienced several once-in-a-career events. Again, I thank each of you for your efforts in working with the students of OISD. I wish you the best for the remainder of the school year and in the years to come. And as always, if I can be of assistance to you in any manner, please let me know.”
Welch has been with the district 26 years, according to statements from OISD board president Nancy Ashworth, during which time he aided in acquiring grants and land for current and future growth, bond projects and major technology improvements across the entire district. He also saw the district through not one, but two, extremely devastating hurricanes, at which time the superintendent saw to the needs of OISD and neighboring Bridge City ISD in 2008.
Filling Welch’s shoes, at least temporarily, will be longtime educator Kay Karr, who will be leaving retirement to serve as the interim superintendent of the Orangefield school district. Karr was selected after a multi-hour closed session meeting of the OISD school board.
Although not formally introduced, Karr stayed after the meeting to tell the crowd a little about herself, including that she was a life-long Texan who moved to the Orange area to be close to family, had been an educator for 47 years at all grade levels and administrative posts before retiring, and had served in official capacity for the Texas Education Agency.
No posting has been made on the OISD employment Web site seeking applicants for Welch’s position as of yet, but officials are saying the superintendent position will likely be filled by the 2012-13 school year.